As we end the Lunar New Year with a bang, let us revisit the brief history of the Lunar New Year and how it syncretized with our culture and traditions.
It all started during the Shang Dynasty wherein people would offer sacrificial gifts to gods and ancestors.
The practice soldiered on through the Zhou Dynasty and it was also during this period where a lion-like beast called Nian made its first foray into historic records.
Based on folklore, Nian would ascend from the sea every year to extirpate people, so people would hide in clandestine locations. But despite the nefariousness of this narrative, there is a profound assurance that the lion-like beast is afraid of loud sounds and the color red – its “Achilles Heel” so to speak.
Now you know why fireworks and the color red are instrumental in celebrating the Chinese New Year.
Lion dances, on the other hand, is the re-enactment of how Nian was sent back to the sea. (Bye bye!)
Just a little trivia. Dishes that have fish on it, are a must on the table during Chinese New Year.
Why? According to Culture Trip, “Eating fish is meant to ensure that abundance will carry into the new year.” (Nothing wrong with eating fish all the time. It’s super healthy and yes it would ensure a person’s longevity in this world…. well… of course except some, like Tilapia). Dried scallops, if you will, are also served on every table during this celebration because of a close resemblance of Chinese coins.
On the aspect of how the Philippines integrated the celebration into its own slate of holidays, it all started in 2012 as a non-working holiday, by a virtue of Proclamation No. 295 under the former administration of Former President Benigno Aquino III.
The said proclamation states that this “is a manifestation of our solidarity with our Chinese-Filipino brethren who have been part of our lives in many respects as a country and as a people.”
It is said that the former president’s nod to the latter is an affirmation to his ancestry, the Cojuangcos – (from his matriarch), who are Filipino-Chinese, too.
Some prominent businessmen here in our country are Filipino-Chinese, say, for instance, the late George S.K. Ty, founder and chairman of Metrobank, the late John Gokongwei, founder and chairman of JG Summit Holdings and mall magnate, Tony Tan Caktiong, owner of Jollibee Foods Corporation, Emilio Yap, owner of the Manila Bulletin, Lucio Tan, owner of Philippine Airlines and Philippine National Bank and Andrew Tan, chairman of Megaworld Corporation just to name a few…
Of course, Chinese New Year in the Philippines would not meet its fruition if Filipinos would not pay a visit to Binondo to savor those yummy treats like Tikoy and other Chinese foods and goodies.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!